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Theater chain hit with federal fines

Local movie sites accused of child labor violations

The U.S. Department of Labor has fined a Murray-based theater chain for alleged federal child labor violations.

Consolidated Theaters Inc., the supervising corporation of several individually owned theaters, was hit with $22,230 in civil penalties for working its minors as late as 12:30 a.m.

According to the Fair Labor Standards Act, 14- and 15-year-olds may not work later than 7 p.m., or before 7 a.m., and not more than three hours on a school day or 18 hours in a school week. During summer months, the hours are extended to 9 p.m.

Dean Campbell, district director of the department's Salt Lake office, said 24 minors were involved in violations at Gateway Cinema in Bountiful, TuCine Theaters in Kearns, Show Case 6 in Taylorsville and 5 Star Cinema in Magna.

This is the theater chain's second tangle with the department. In 1996, the company was cited for identical violations, but those penalties were later waived.

Ronald Barker, a Salt Lake attorney representing the theaters, said the company will challenge the assessment.

"They've got a bulldozer trying to push an ant hill," said Barker, adding that the fine would force the theaters out of business. "One of them is a Hispanic theater that has three employees. They're talking about putting the last of the little guys out of business."

The company's appeal will automatically be referred to an administrative law judge within the Labor Department.

"We can't tell from the stuff they've given us specifically what it is they say we did wrong," Barker said. "For example, from Labor Day to June 1 they're saying that this one guy worked an extra three hours on a school day. We can't determine from that whether they're right or wrong."